Medford casino one step closer

Medford, Ore. – [Update: 1/20/17- 7:00 p.m.] Plans are moving forward for a casino in south Medford. A memo released this week finds the Coquille Indian Tribe’s property on Highway 99, qualifies for gaming under provisions of the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. It’s the next step in a rather lengthy process, but a decision that the tribe is calling encouraging tonight.

A federal agency review by the Office of Indian Gaming concludes that the Coquille Indian Tribe has the right to open a casino once the land is placed in federal trust.

“Office of Indian Gaming has assured us that the restored lands process is the right way to do that as opposed the 2 part determination which is what we’ve said all along needs to be done,” John Watt says.

The preliminary review is contrary to the position of the city of Medford, which was that approval would be a two-step process.

“A 2 step process means that the approval would need to go through the governor’s office here at the state of Oregon,” city manager, Brian Sjothun says.

And while the transition of the land from a bowling alley to a video gaming casino and entertainment center, is still a ways off, it will be up to the federal government on whether or not they approve the land being put into trust.

Now local officials have to figure out how they’ll choose to proceed.

“Whether to continue with their position of it being a two step process or are we going to negotiate a fee for service with the organization,” Sjothun says, “and again that’s a decision that will be made by the council but it’ll be down the road, they still have time.”

Governor Kate Brown, the Jackson County Commissioners and Medford city councilors have all previously come out against the project.

Next steps include an environmental impact statement by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, followed by a public hearing. For more information on the project click HERE.


A proposed Medford casino cleared a major hurdle, according to the Coquille Indian Tribe.

In a letter, Coquille officials say a memo sent by the Director of the Office of Indian Gaming to the Northwest Regional office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs found the tribe’s property in south Medford “would qualify for gaming under provisions of the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.”

“This memo confirms everything that we have been saying since we first announced our economic development plans for Medford,” said Tribal Chairperson Brenda Meade. “While we recognize that this decision will not be finalized until the end of the federal process, this clarification encourages us to move forward on planning for the Cedars at Bear Creek and further development in Medford.”

The tribe’s ultimate plan is to transform a property on Highway 99 at the current Roxy Ann Lanes bowling alley into a new gaming and entertainment center called The Cedars at Bear Creek. The casino would feature “class 2” games that are similar to sophisticated video or virtual games–not typical table games.

The tribe said several steps still remain for The Cedars casino to be officially federally approved. A draft Environmental Impact Statement must be completed, then a public hearing will be held and written comments will be accepted. The Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs will then finalize the EIS and make a final decision.

Governor Brown, the Jackson County Commissioners and Medford city councilors have all come out against the project.

NBC5 News is reaching out to both the Coquille Tribe and the City of Medford for their reaction. This post will be updated.

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